Does a loved one with dementia need help controlling aggression? Are you worried she or he might wander and get lost, or fall when home alone?
For a family, the economic strain of managing dementia and Alzheimer’s can be oppressive, with associated costs for treatment and care slated to rise to $2 trillion annually by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.
Instead of relying on costly caregivers or prematurely turning to residential care, there are tech devices that can reduce your worry by keeping tabs on your loved ones. These innovative gadgets for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers are positioned to chip away at ballooning caregiving costs by helping those with dementia remain in their homes longer.
Here are five useful gadgets to ease your caregiving load.
Amazon Echo Show, $230
Being Patient recently featured Eva Rosenthal who is living with dementia. Rosenthal had trouble with her smartphone, often forgetting how to access contacts and return calls. As her diagnosis progressed, she frequently lost her phone. Rosenthal’s struggle is a common one for people with dementia.
To tackle this, caregivers can use Amazon Echo Show’s Drop In feature to instantly initiate a two-way video call with their loved ones. No button-pushing required.
The Drop In feature essentially turns this Amazon device (equipped with a 5.5 inch screen) into a two-way intercom. It connects caregivers to their relatives automatically, provided they have previously granted the device permission.
“My mother has early onset Alzheimer’s and I think it’s worth its price alone based on how easy it is to check in on her,” reported one customer on Amazon’s website.
Note: Bigger spenders can invest in a telepresence robot, like the Giraff from Camanio Care, a more human-like video camera that crisscrosses the home on durable wheels.
AngelSense GPS Tracker, $99, plus $33 a month for the service plan
Six in 10 people with dementia will wander and get disoriented, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. For example, they may try to go home when they are already at home. And it can be difficult to locate them: A person with Alzheimer’s may not remember basic information like a name or address.
Caregivers can find them quickly with GPS devices, like AngelSense’s GPS wearables.
The tracking device can be attached to a belt or built into a t-shirt. It has a phone call feature for verbal check-ins and an alarm that can be activated to better pinpoint a wandering loved one’s location.
About 10% of AngelSense users are people with dementia, the company reported.
Vitals App, Free Keychain & App, Replacement beacons are $20.
Aggression, agitation, paranoia, and hallucinations are common symptoms of dementia. Being Patient has reported on how caregivers and community members manage these difficult personality changes.
With the Vitals App, Minnesota-based caregivers can create profiles with critical information about their loved ones and proven de-escalation techniques to diffuse confrontational situations.
A person with dementia is outfitted with a keychain that connects to the App via a built-in beacon device. If they go within 30-80 feet of a first responder, the officers get a notification with immediate access to the Vitals App profile.
Around 60 law-enforcement agencies in the Twin Cities area are actively using the app today. The company’s long-term expansion goal is to “better serve communities around the country,” Vital Aware Services reports.
Misplacing things is often an early sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The missing items are sometimes found in unexpected locations (for example, keys in the refrigerator).
Perhaps one of the most commonly lost items is house keys. If a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s shows up at the front door keyless, caregivers can use Amazon’s Ring doorbell devices to assist them remotely.
The doorbell has a motion-tracker, speaker and camera. It’s controlled via the Ring app, which multiple users can access via a Shared Users feature. The Shared Users can access a live video of the front door and speak to their loved ones during a potential crisis.
GreatCall’s Lively Mobile Plus, $37.49, plus $34.99 a month for the service plan
Falls are common among dementia patients, with up to 30% of them leading to serious injuries, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
To help, consumer-electronics retailer Best Buy sells GreatCall’s Lively Mobile Medical-Alert Devices. The gadget, which readily hangs from a lanyard, has fall-detection technology that senses the jarring movement of a fall. It then immediately alerts a GreatCall medical dispatcher.
Best Buy linked up with GreatCall in August 2018. The service, now available nationwide, provides a host of other assistive devices, including GPS watches and large-buttoned phones.
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